Mohs Surgery

ExitCare ImageMohs surgery is a procedure used to treat skin cancer. This surgery is done on the most common types of skin cancer like basal and squamous cell carcinoma. Skin cells (cancerous tissue) are carefully cut away layer by layer. The goal is to remove all cancerous tissue while preserving and minimizing the removal of the healthy skin around it. This keeps scarring to a minimum and allows for a better cosmetic outcome.

It is used to treat skin cancer in areas where it is important to save as much of your normal skin as possible. These include the:

  • Nose.

  • Eyelids.

  • Ears.

  • Lips.

  • Hands.

  • Feet.

  • Genitals.

The procedure is used mostly if:

  • Cancer has returned after another type of treatment.

  • The cancer is likely to return.

  • The cancerous area is large.

  • The area of the cancer has edges that are not clearly defined.

  • The cancer is growing swiftly.


You can usually go home the same day (outpatient) after the Mohs surgery.

  • A medicine is given to make the affected area numb (local anesthetic).

  • A layer of cancerous tissue is removed. It is immediately frozen and examined under a microscope.

  • The surgeon notes the precise location of the cancerous cells.

  • Another layer is removed, but only from the area of the cancerous cells. This layer is frozen and examined in the same way.

  • More layers are shaved away, one by one, and examined until no evidence of cancer remains.

The procedure may take a while. The length of the procedure will depend on how extensive the cancer is. Some surgeons are testing a way to examine the tissue that is removed without having to freeze it first. This could speed up the process.


  • The surgeon might close the wound immediately or let it heal on its own. A large wound could require a skin graft or skin flap.

  • The Mohs surgeon might refer you to another surgeon if the wound needs extensive repair.

  • There could be some swelling or bruising at the site of the surgery.